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All That Glitters


Divorce Jewelry?

By Richard Alan Wait, before you decide I’m crazy and turn the page, you must understand I get many requests for such things. Yeah, I know, weeks ago I spoke about the beauty of a long and loving marriage and how many couples even renew vows after certain anniversary dates. And I have the utmost respect for them. Personally, I’m a realist and being in the jewelry business my whole life I have seen many couples in love picking out that special engagement ring. Many survive the engagement and many don’t. Sometimes he’s back looking for a refund on the ... Read More »

State of the jewelry biz… 2011

It was once again an interesting season on Marco Island and the rest of the planet. The 2010 holiday season was busier than 2009 and as I predicted,  silver was white hot! I did something that carried me through and surpassed the dismal 2009 season, I began manufacturing sea life silver jewelry with gold accents instead of all gold, the response was fantastic! My off season will be dedicated to creating more new designs for the next holiday season; less gold more silver makes my pieces more affordable. Gratefully there are still occasional clients who still won’t settle for anything ... Read More »

Get wired

By Richard Alan The things ladies wear on their necks like most fashions come and go but one style of neckwear has in my opinion never reached its peak. I’m talking about the simple neck wire. But before I elaborate on neck wires I wish to quell the rumors about “my retirement” and selling the business. I have not retired, but after forty years at the bench, I am limiting my hours at the store, let’s call it “semi-retired” as far as my business… The Harbor Goldsmith is concerned. This summer I am simply moving it and its staff from ... Read More »

Inspiring inscriptions

By Richard Alan Often times when I am accepting a repair or alteration, let’s say a ring sizing, especially an antique ring, I make a note to myself to be careful not to disturb the inside engraving it may contain. You would be surprised how many people are unaware that their inherited rings have engraving on the inside diameter. A century ago, before we could call, beep, page, fax or e-mail or text someone, people actually wrote letters to each other. Often times separated by miles or oceans or a loved one could be away in some war in some ... Read More »

So… What does a goldsmith do?

By Richard Alan A couple of years ago a confused gentleman entered my shop tossed a ring of keys on my counter and politely asked me to make two of each (Gulf Lock and Safe is next door.) I remarked that I would be happy to oblige him, “What metal would you prefer them in gold or platinum?” His reply…”What”? Let me point out he’s the one standing in a showroom with jewelry from wall to wall; I considered it a perfectly intelligent question. After I explained to the wayward soul that the locksmith is next door, he asked me ... Read More »

Comfort jewelry

By Richard Alan Everyone is familiar with comfort food. It’s plain and simple, its warmth and taste makes you feel good and cozy. Maybe I’m wrong but some ladies feel the same way about the jewelry they wear. No self-respecting woman I know would be caught dead leaving the house, even if it’s a quick trip to the supermarket without her hair or make up looking just right. (Although I have once witnessed the sight of a woman pushing a shopping cart at Publix in curlers, slippers and what sure looked like a bath robe! I love this island!) There can ... Read More »

Viva la difference

By Richard Alan A strange occurrence has appeared at my shop the past few weeks and that is the demand for diamonds that are any color than white. Different from white you say? The most asked for is the yellow canary diamond. But you thought that if a diamond is yellow that means it’s not a good color diamond. Right? Wrong! I’m talking vibrant yellow like a canary in a coal mine. I’m amazed that customers are surprised to see that diamonds come in many colors besides yellow; there are many shades of blue, green, pink, even brown and jet ... Read More »

Living a charmed life

By Richard Alan The personal adornment of a charm bracelet or a charm hanging around one’s neck has been enjoying a re-birth in recent years. Once considered passé I’m finding them more in demand than I can remember. The wearing or simple possession of a charm or “talisman” goes back to the dawn of time. Archaeological discoveries and excavations have brought to light thousands of miniature amulets or charms from the primordial era, an incredible 30,000 years B.C.! So why would literally a cave person possess such things? There are many reasons to wear them, to please benevolent spirits or ... Read More »

Repair it and wear it!

By Richard Alan Not much lasts forever, unless it’s a diamond, unfortunately the piece of jewelry it’s set in doesn’t last that long. I’m always amazed at people’s reactions when I notice discrepancies while inspecting customer’s jewelry. There can be prongs or even stones missing, cracked and damaged mountings, and their reaction is usually surprise or shock. I like to use the comparison of what happens to an ordinary pair of shoes when you wear for 15 or 20 years without taking them off every now and then to resole them. It’s only a matter of time before your toes ... Read More »

Care of your fine jewelry… Part II

by Richard Alan I left off last time with the daunting task of cleaning silver. Ten years or so ago it was fairly easy to do, but with current technology most silver jewelry is now plated with a coating of nickel, rhodium or palladium. Most folks know that sterling silver tarnishes, the younger generations blame the jeweler, I explain that if it didn’t it would cost the same as gold. Living on a tropical island surrounded by salt water and constant heat and humidity it’s nearly impossible to prevent. However, you can slow down the darkening process by these simple steps. Purchase a ... Read More »

Proper care of your fine jewelry, Part I

by Richard Alan Nobody, but nobody, cleans a piece of jewelry like I do. In this column, and the next, I will explain simple instructions for you to get great results at home and help prevent the damage most folks inflict on their precious pieces of jewelry. The simple act of just cleaning jewelry can often cause inconceivable damage to either the gemstone or the mounting that holds it. It would be like using glass cleaner to clean a stain on a tan suede leather couch. There are certain things you just don’t do to your jewels. Cleaning fine jewelry ... Read More »

Five golden rings

by Richard Alan Hey guys, heads up… this is your two minute warning. Gift giving time for your special someone will be here sooner than you think, and if you are a working stiff like I am and the time gets away from us before you know it it’s Christmas Eve. Then reality sets in or should I say panic sets in. I totally blew it last year, and on Christmas morning the temperature towards me was colder around my tree in my living room than it was in the woods of Siberia from my lack of planning. I’m a ... Read More »

Shop Well! Shop smart this season!

by Richard Alan Another holiday season is upon us and as I predicted, the  public is blanketed with slightly obscure and deceptive ‘sale’ ploys to get you in their stores. So… was it really a bargain? Gee, they told me it was. Honestly how would you even know? Was it trumped up pricing that was then ‘discounted’? What exactly were the regular prices? I love it when I see 40% off to 80% off on gold jewelry!  Impossible!!! Not when gold is hovering around $1400.00 an ounce. Any jeweler I know with half a brain would be better off scrapping ... Read More »

Be kind to your local goldsmith

The other day a woman entered my busy goldsmith shop and sat in the corner and seemed to be observing the interaction between my staff and my customers and of course… me. I got the impression she was a secret shopper or a spy sent by one of my competitors. Eventually we satisfied the crowd’s needs that were as simple as a watch battery replacement or as complicated as the removal of a wedding band from a swollen finger. When my staff and I cleared the showroom it was time for me to get back to the bench. The mysterious ... Read More »

Diamonds below wholesale?

I noticed an advertisement in an out of town newspaper the other day that claimed “We sell diamonds below wholesale.” I could not help but wonder, how? Did they steal them or what? Then I realized in this economy, it’s possible. Let’s call it legal larceny. Numerous times a week I receive phone calls inquiring if I buy diamonds, my answer is I’m sorry no I don’t, I only buy gold for scrap or to recycle into new sellable jewelry in my workshop. Their next question is “Do you know who does?” Up to a couple of months ago I ... Read More »

September blues

I’m not talking about the birthstone for September. (Although I should be, this column is supposed to be about jewelry!) I’m writing this column while viewing the sapphire blue water of the Mediterranean from another place my wife and I also consider Paradise: Mallorca. An island jewel off the coast Spain, with steep mountains and private beaches, Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands. Andrea and I originally cancelled our annual jewelry/gift-buying trip to Europe where it would appear to most that we roam aimlessly through Germany, Holland, France, Italy and finally Spain for some R and R. Over ... Read More »

Getting your gems worth

It’s the same scenario over and over; year after year, I’m asked: “We bought this ring overseas. Is the gemstone worth the money we paid?” Many times, more often than not, the value just isn’t there. You can call it being duped, hoodwinked, or just plain buffaloed. Having the option to at least ask the right questions before a serious purchase is a good start. By just Google-ing a particular gemstone, the internet can be an endless source of information. For those of you who are on a dirt road when it comes to the technological highway (owning a personal ... Read More »

Is it real, or isn’t it?

You are in a jewelry store in Anywhere, U.S.A. looking at a gorgeous gemstone ring with a hefty price tag. You ask the sales person if it is a genuine stone. They answer, “I’m not sure, the tag says it’s an emerald.” Sadly most retail jewelry stores’ salespeople wouldn’t know the difference between an emerald and a green tourmaline, and many times the extent of their gem identification knowledge is printed on that price tag. The scary thing is that “emerald ring” could be anything but an emerald. It could be cheap imitation green glass, or a crude doublet from ... Read More »

Precious or semi-precious, what’s the difference?

Most retail jewelers will consider this question an easy way to suffocate a sale, but nevertheless it is an intelligent question. What would be expected to be a rare or expensive gemstone has changed over the centuries. We all know the four basic precious gemstones: the king of kings, the diamond; and then, of course, the ruby; the emerald; and the sapphire. Guess what? The playing field has changed. Today there are gemstones that are actually more expensive than diamonds! For example, rare Russian alexandrite can fetch tens of thousands of dollars per carat and can exceed the cost of ... Read More »

Summer dazed

Another season has passed and the dragon fly summer is in full bloom. Fortunately for me, I had an OK season; I certainly didn’t break any sales records, with the price of gold being at an all time high, not to mention the economy. I’m truly grateful that my two island shops are still functioning and healthy; a special “thanks” to my fabulous clientele who may be reading this. Surviving a summer on Marco? No matter how I budget both mentally and monetarily to get through the lean summer months, something always comes up, and as for all the beautifully ... Read More »